If one examines the current landscape of the automobile industry, one fact stands apparent – the internal combustion engine still reigns supreme. In fact, in 2018 electronic vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S. totaled 361,307 vehicles, a mere fraction of the 17 million total vehicles sold in the country. However, there is the promise that this figure will continue to rise since 2018 saw an 81% rise in electric car sales from 2017.
The first commercially successful internal combustion engine was created by Etienne Lenoir around 1859, and the first modern internal combustion engine was created in 1876 by Nikolaus Otto. In terms of technology and technological progress, this can be considered ancient. However, electric vehicle manufacturers are attempting to change this dynamic and introduce cleaner, electric vehicles to command a bigger share of the automobile market cap.
According to electric vehicle research by Deloitte, the cost of ownership for electric vehicles is set to match that of traditional petrol and gasoline vehicles globally by 2022. The same research report estimated that an additional 21 million electric vehicles (EVs) will be on the road globally over the next decade. Their popularity is undoubtedly tied to their efficiency. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical modern electric vehicle, on average, has a conventional gasoline efficiency equivalent of 80mpg. That’s nothing to scoff at. For many consumers in the U.S. and worldwide, this is an intriguing selling point.
Despite the fact that electric vehicles have shown early indicators of a potential large scale shift away from combustion engine vehicles, there is still a great deal of uncertainty among experts. Many envision the U.S. market as hesitant to embrace electric vehicles in the same way as the rest of the world. Others point to the popularity of brands such as Elon Musk’s Tesla, which has made significant inroads into the U.S. consumer market. Indeed, in 2018 Tesla’s Model 3 was the highest selling premium sedan on the market, among a wide range of choices for consumers.
For a long time, one of the main critiques of electric vehicles was that the charging infrastructure was simply too small and unreliable to support a larger consumer market. However, even this is steadily changing, with companies such as EVGo and ChargePoint increasingly growing their network of charging stations nationwide. Even Shell has entered the market by acquiring charging network provider Greenlots, potentially signaling a belief that the market is ready for large scale adoption of electric vehicles.
There are numerous benefits to electric vehicles. For starters, they are incredibly quiet and quick. With instant acceleration, the driving experience offers something new even to veteran drivers. Electric vehicles have a lower cost of ownership in the long-run since oil changes and other automobile fluids are not necessary. The environmental benefits over gasoline-powered vehicles are self-evident, despite the fact that electricity production is still not the cleanest process it could be.
While the technology behind electric vehicles has been progressing steadily over the last decade, and brands such as Tesla have rapidly gained popularity, roadblocks still remain in place for electric vehicles.
Although charging stations have become more numerous, some analysts are predicting that these stations could cause a drain on our large scale electric grid. Increasing demand for electricity production will require improved and expanded infrastructure. There is also the issue of range. For example, most electric vehicles on the market today only offer between 150-250 miles between charges. This means that consumers have to spend time mapping out their exact routes and figuring out the precise location of charging stations to make it to their destination
The cost is still a sticking point for many people, although this is slowly changing as well. At one time, electric vehicles were a status symbol for the rich rather than an everyman’s car. Companies such as Nissan, Hyundai, Ford, and even Tesla will be rolling out sub-$35,000 vehicles in the near future, many offering 200 miles per charge.
It remains to be seen where the electric vehicle market is headed. At the moment, there are many signs that companies are serious about expanding their electric vehicle offerings, and consumers have shown exponentially more interest over the past couple of years. As the infrastructure that supports electric vehicles expands and consumer prices drop, electric vehicles could be coming to a garage or driveway near you.